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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Commission approves charging cities for prisoners in county jail

Under a plan approved by the Linn County Commission on Monday, cities would pay for stays of suspects arrested by police departments in the Linn County jail. (Journal file photo)

MOUND CITY – Expect for the buzz in city council chambers across Linn County this week to be about the unanimous approval by the Linn County Commission on Monday, April 3, to charge cities for prisoners they hold in the county jail.

County Counselor Gary Thompson brought information that had been requested several weeks ago about the county charging cities for prisoners at the jail to Monday’s meeting.

After Thompson presented the commissioners with a resolution for their consideration about inmate charges for the cities and a discussion with Linn County Sheriff Kevin Friend, the commissioners voted to allow the sheriff to begin to charge a price determined by him on June 1.

Friend said that he was concerned that Linn County cities had not put this in their budget for this year and it might affect them negatively if they did not have any notice.

Commissioner Jason Hightower said he had already discussed this with officials from Linn Valley and La Cygne. He said that La Cygne has been expecting this and are tacking it on with court costs. Linn Valley said that have not had very many of these instances so don’t see an issue with it.

Commissioner Jim Johnson said that he had talked with two cities in his district, Mound City and Parker, and they both know about it.

At the meeting of the Pleasanton City Council on Monday and the Mound City Council on Tuesday, law enforcement officials and administrators at both cities believed the impact on their budgets would be minimal.

At Monday’s commission meeting Friend explained that the cities can assess fees in city court from the people going to jail to pay for the costs of jail time. He said that he did not want to put cities at a hardship by not giving them some notice that this was going to start.

Friend told the commissioners that after working with cooks and jail staff considering the cost of inmate care, he determined that a fee of $40 was the minimum amount that would cover the jail’s cost. Friend said that so far this year, there had been 15 days of holding inmates for cities.

Friend said that $40 per day was a very reasonable amount because the sheriff’s department could easily prove that it cost more than that.

Friend told the commissioners that his biggest concern was the healthcare because that can get rather expensive rather quickly. If Linn County were to be taking on that healthcare, it could be costly.

Thompson pointed out that the Kansas statute KSA 19-1930 and several attorney general’s opinions make it clear that when a county jail houses city prisoners, the city will be responsible for their medical care.

Friend said that it was $40 per day no matter how long they stay during the day. The Linn County Sheriff’s Office does not charge for the booking charge like other jails. He said they charge the day that the inmate comes in until the day that they leave.

Friend said that he was trying to be sensible and reasonable with the $40 per day. He pointed out that the Linn County Jail was receiving $67.50 per day from Wyandotte County, $88 from the United States Marshall Service and after the first of the year will be receiving $94 per day from the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC).

Other counties have a lot higher rates, said Friend. Since the Douglas County Jail is nearly full of Lawrence prisoners, the county often has to send the county inmates to another county. For that reason, they charge Lawrence $287 per day for the city’s inmates.

The resolution that Thompson gave the commissioners stated:

• Resolution 89-22 is hereby rescinded. That resolution was made by the Linn County Commissioners in 1989 to charge cities $25 a day for prisoners.

• Any action taken or direction given by the Board of County Commissioners at any time which is in conflict with KSA 19-1930 is hereby rescinded, repealed, or canceled. That is the statute that clearly authorizes sheriffs to charge the cities for housing their prisoners.

• Resolution 2022-21 is hereby reaffirmed. This is the resolution approved in June 2022 that authorizes the sheriff to enter into agreements with various entities, including local governments to house their prisoners and negotiate for services.

• Reaffirmed that under Kansas law the Linn County Sheriff is allowed to bill cities for housing city prisoners jailed for violation of city ordinances and to include in that billing medical care for such prisoners.

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